Remote work is on the rise.
In our State of Collaboration report, we found that 57% of Gen Zers, 50% of Millennials, and even 46% of Gen Xers work from home at least once a week. And one in four office workers claim to work from home half of the time, if not more.
As remote work grows in popularity, the need for remote work tools becomes more apparent. How can your team maintain communication, manage projects effectively, and share work quickly when each staffer is located in a different timezone?
The answer is remote work tools.
In this article, we'll take a look at 12 must-have tools for remote work. Our list includes communication apps, project management solutions, file sharing tools, and more.
We have a lot of software goodness to get to so let's get started!
The Purpose of Remote Work Tools
Before we get into our list of remote work tools, we want to take a minute to outline why the solutions below are worth downloading, learning to use, and even paying for if need be.
You may be thinking to yourself, "I do just fine with my email and phone. Why do I need to add more apps to my workflow? It just sounds confusing…"
You're right, you can do fine without any of the remote tools listed below. If you wanted to, you could continue using the basic tools you already are to stay in touch with your company and your other remote colleagues. But this definitely isn't the best way to work.
The right tools offer remote workers a couple of benefits they wouldn't otherwise have:
Any time you have the right tools at your disposal, your productivity levels will go up.
All of the solutions listed below will help you get more done in less time. Some of them do this by giving you more convenient ways to converse with colleagues. Others do it by allowing you to easily share documents, images, and videos.
The point is, an investment in remote work tools will supercharge your workflow and allow you to become more productive almost instantly.
Better Team Morale
Let's face it, remote work is amazing, but it can also be lonely. Without the regular human-to-human interaction that office work provides, you may find yourself craving real connection with other people. If you don't get it, you may become burned out and depressed.
Fortunately, many of the remote work tools listed below will help you get the human interaction you need without you having to set up shop in a dreary office space!
Chat and video conferencing tools make it easy to speak with colleagues whenever there's a need. Most project management apps allow users to chat and share ideas. And even fils sharing tools like G Suite allow for comments.
When you and your colleagues are able to communicate effectively, you'll see team morale rise.
12 Remote Work Tools
We've broken the following 12 solutions into 4 categories: communication, project management, file sharing, and other. With that in mind, let's dive into our list of remote work tools!
Successful remote teams know how to communicate effectively. The apps in this section will help you stay in touch with your colleagues and/or employees and converse much quicker and more conveniently than you ever have before.
Slack is an incredibly popular communication tool that combines text, audio, and video chat features into one convenient package.
Conversations can be organized into channels based on team members, projects, or anything else that's pertinent to your organization and team members can leave or join said channels at any time — unlike lengthy email chains.
Slack also has a searchable history feature that allows users to easily find past chats and shared information in less time. Speaking of shared information, this communication app will even let you share documents like PDFs, images, and videos.
All in all, Slack is a powerful communication tool and worthy of the constant praise it gets.
Whereas Slack has features that allow its users to communicate via video chat, Highfive was created, from the ground up, for this purpose. It's a video conferencing app that's used by well-known brands such as the Rolling Stone and Harry's.
Unlike other video conferencing tools, hosting meetings with Highfive is easy and enjoyable. You and your team will never have to use pins. Just click on your meeting and start participating. The app also won't limit how many meetings you host or how long each one is.
It's revolutionary features like this that make Highfive a fantastic remote work tool.
3. Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams can be thought of as a Slack alternative. It provides similar chat and file sharing features and allows remote teams to easily organize conversations.
But it also has a bit of Highfive in it as well. Folks can use Microsoft Teams to host audio and video meetings, web conferences, and even live events for up to 10,000 people. We should also mention that each of these can be recorded for future playback as well.
One of the best things about Microsoft teams is its compatibility with Office 365. If your team uses Office on a regular basis then you'll love how seamlessly all of your tools work together.
Stop typing out long-winded emails to remote colleagues. Instead, use CloudApp to record yourself (via your computer's webcam) speaking your mind. Or record your screen and illustrate exact processes and workflows for others in your organization.
When extra clarity is needed, CloudApp's annotation feature can be used to add arrows, circles, text boxes and more to images and videos, directing attention to specific elements.
CloudApp packs a powerful punch but is very easy to use. In just a few clicks you can create a screenshot or recording and have it automatically uploaded to your private CloudApp library. When you're ready to send the content to a colleague, you can simply drag and drop it into your email, a Slack Chat, or a Trello Card.
CloudApp is free to use and useful for remote teams when speed and clarity are needed. Download it today and see for yourself!
Managing projects isn't easy. People, budgets, and deadlines need to be coordinated effectively and kept on track for a project to meet with success. If project management has you tearing your hair out, these three remote work tools will help.
Based on the Kanban methodology, Trello is a visual project management software that's both powerful and easy to use.
All work in Trello happens on Boards. Boards are then divided into Lists, which represent different stages in a project and populated with Cards. A Card represents a specific task and can contain due dates, chat boxes, attachments, and more.
Let's say you were managing your company's blog with Trello. Your workflow might look something like this:
- First, a Trello Board named "Company Blog" is created.
- Next, Lists representing each stage of the blog creation process are added to the "Company Blog" Board. The first List is named "Ideas," the second "Writing," the third "Editing," and the fourth "Published."
- Then, Cards are created. Each one represents a different blog post idea, the name of the remote team member who is supposed to write it, and a suggested due date.
- Finally, as blog post ideas are chosen and worked on, the cards that represent them are moved from List to List until they are completed.
Trello is a fantastic way to manage projects, especially for remote teams!
Asana is another popular project management app. It's not as simple to use as Trello, but it does have more features that remote workers may appreciate.
Asana offers its users multiple ways to view projects. There's the "Boards" view which is essentially the same things as Trello. But there's also the "List" view which lists out each task to be completed for a specific project, the "Timeline" view which helps illustrate the relationship between tasks, and the "Calendar" view which shows tasks overlaid onto a traditional calendar.
One Asana feature that we love is its project templates. Basically, Asana has mapped out standard workflows for marketing, design, HR, IT, and other departments. All users have to do is input information for their own projects and follow the predetermined process.
If you're new to project management, you'll likely appreciate this feature.
Todoist is more of a smart to-do list than a project management app. But for remote workers seeking simplicity, it can double as a project management tool rather nicely.
Tasks that need to get done can be added to Todoist. Things like due dates, priority levels, and comments can then be added to each task. The app even gives users the ability to assign work to others. Once a task has been added to Todoist, it can be viewed on any device with the app.
Todoist definitely works as a project management app. But it also excels as a personal organizer. You can use it to better manage both your professional and personal life!
For remote teams, file sharing is inevitable. But we all know that sending files via email is rarely an ideal scenario. That's why we recommend the following file sharing solutions:
8. G Suite
If you need to share documents, spreadsheets, presentations, or other files, do yourself a favor and create them in G Suite first, then share them with your remote colleagues with ease.
G Suite is Google's impressive suite of business tools that includes Google Docs, a cloud-based Microsoft Word alternative; Google Sheets, a cloud-based Microsoft Excel alternative; Google Slides, a cloud-based Microsoft Powerpoint alternative; and Google Drive, a cloud storage app.
Google Docs and Google Drive are particularly useful collaboration software for remote teams.
Users can use Google Docs to edit each other's written work and add comments to ask questions or clarify ideas. And Google Drive is perfect for sharing large files like high-res images and large video files in the cloud.
If you're looking for a way to share large files but don't need the myriad of tools that G Suite offers, consider Dropbox. This file hosting service is immensely popular and used by millions of people around the world.
All you have to do is upload your file to your Dropbox account and then share access to it with your colleagues. It's that simple.
For remote workers who want additional functionality and extra storage space, Dropbox Business can be used to better organize team content and store files from other popular tools like Google Docs and Microsoft Office.
There are a few other tools that you might want to add to your remote technology stack. These tools don't fall into a neat category like the ones above but they're just as important.
After reading this article, you might want to download and start using a few new tools. Great! But there's one potential problem: what if the tools you choose don't integrate and work together? A disjointed workflow won't help you improve your productivity as a remote worker.
Fortunately, there's a solution and it's name is Zapier.
Zapier is an app that allows you to connect over 1,500 popular tools together seamlessly. Most of the remote work tools listed in this article connect with Zapier.
If the solutions you plan to use don't integrate natively, get Zapier and you'll be good to go.
If you're not familiar with Toggl, it's "Simple time tracking. Powerful reporting." In a nutshell, Toggle allows users to track the time they spend on projects and analyze the results for future optimization. The tool can be used on desktops, tablets, and smartphones.
In regard to remote work, Toggl can benefit two kinds of remote professionals: hourly employees who need to track their hours to get paid, and those seeking to boost productivity.
- Hourly Workers: If you're paid hourly rather than on salary, Toggl's time tracking software is the easiest way to make sure every minute you work is accurately logged.
- Productivity Seekers: Perhaps you're just looking for a way to get more done in less time. Toggle can help! By tracking the time you spend on work related activities, you'll be able to see where you can improve your time management skills the most.
If you fall into either of these two camps, we recommend taking a look at Toggle to see if it can help make your life as a remote professional easier.
Finally, we have Timezone.io, a simple app that tells you where and when each person on your remote team is.
The beauty of remote work is that it allows you to accomplish business tasks from just about anywhere in the world. But if you're working in New York City and your colleague is stationed in Lisbon, Portugal, you're probably going to be working at different times, which means communicating effectively gets tricky.
Unless you have Timezon.io that is and can always see, at a glance, where your colleagues are and the local time in that city. Armed with this knowledge you can easily plan correspondence.
Boost Productivity and Team Morale With Remote Work Tools
The right remote work tools will make you and your remote colleagues more productive. They'll also allow you to experience the human connection of office work, while preserving your freedom to work wherever you want. This in turn, will boost team morale.
Now, all you have to do is choose the remote work tools that suit your personal workflow best! From Slack to CloudApp to Zapier, the solutions listed above are the best of the best. Use them!